Adults can quickly forget that children spend much of their time from ages 2 through 10 either getting teeth or losing their baby teeth. It is seldom a pleasant experience (except perhaps if a generous tooth fairy is involved), and must make a child feel like it will never end. Dr. Seuss (writing under his pen name of Theo. LeSieg, an anagram of Geisel) has created the world's best book for helping children learn about teeth, teething, and how to read. What a great gift for each generation of youngsters!
The book is conveniently organized into the kind of questions a reporter would ask.
Who has teeth? These include red-headed uncles, policemen, zebras, unicycle riders, camels and their riders, and little girls named Ruthie.
Where are there teeth? You will find them on mountain tops, in the air, underground, east, west, north, south, and in a lion's mouth.
Why are there teeth? "They come in handy when you chew." But they are also useful for smiling, work (especially if you are an acrobat and hold someone by your teeth), and speech.
Who doesn't have teeth? The snails and jelly fish are sadly bereft.
What about peoples' teeth? You will grow 2 sets, with 32 in the second set. And you will not get any more, so you'd better take care of them. So don't chew trees like a beaver, or use your teeth to open bottles, or eat sweet junk food ("Billy Billings [has] fifty fillings.").
For you, they will always be "handy when you smile. So keep your teeth around awhile."
"And never bite your dentist . . . your teeth's best friend. Bite someone else instead."
The humorous treatment of the tooth subject will help intrigue your child. You can expect to get questions about why all of these toothy things occur, so you should probably look up the answers before you introduce the book to optimize the educational opportunity. Or talk to your dentist or dental hygienist on your next visit.
The illustrations are not by Dr. Seuss in this new edition, but they are wonderfully done. The teeth are large, in the center of your attention, and beautiful. This serves to underscore the message of having teeth be a positive part of everyone's life.
As a prereader, this book is good for repetition. The words "tooth" and "teeth" are almost everywhere. This can help your child learn to identify those words. When that identification can be done, you can point to the words in the story when you come to them and your child can "read" them to you then aloud. You can eventually add other words that are repeated like "smile" and the articles like "a" and "the."
The illustrations can add clues to allow you to help your youngster identify other words like "red" and "trombones."
After you have finished enjoying this story, I suggest that at some point you begin to ask parallel questions about other parts of the body. This approach can help expand your child's awareness of what makes humans different and what is good about that.
Sink your teeth into this learning opportunity to become a better parent . . . and you'll have a real mouthful! And your child's mouthful will be healthier and your child more literate, too!!